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The British Columbia Court of Appeal has held that a British Columbia superior court judge cannot preside at a hearing outside British Columbia. In so ruling the appeal court overturned a decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court, which had held that no constitutional principles or rules of law prevent a judge in British Columbia sitting outside the province.

The Supreme Court's recent decision in Bhasin v Hrynew recognised a new common law duty of honest performance applicable to all contracts, which requires the contracting parties to be honest with each other in relation to the performance of their contractual obligations. In its decision the Supreme Court sought to introduce clarity and coherence into this area of the law which it described as "piecemeal, unsettled and unclear".

The Supreme Court of Canada's recent Sattva decision is a watershed in the law of contractual interpretation. The court unanimously abandoned the historical approach to contract interpretation and determined that it now "involves issues of mixed fact and law as it is an exercise in which the principles of contract interpretation are applied to the words of the written contract, considered in light of the factual matrix".

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently released a unanimous decision regarding multi-jurisdictional securities class actions. In Kaynes v BP, PLC, an Ontario shareholder alleged that BP, PLC had made misrepresentations to its shareholders regarding, among other things, the extent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which negatively affected the price of its shares.

In yet another instalment of the long-running saga involving former media mogul Conrad Black, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) recently denied Black's motion to stay the OSC's proceeding against him involving allegations of securities fraud alleged to have been committed by Black as former chief executive officer of media company Hollinger Inc.

In Union Carbide Canada Inc v Bombardier Inc the Supreme Court of Canada recently considered whether a mediation contract with an absolute confidentiality clause displaced the common law settlement privilege and, more specifically, the exception to that privilege which enables parties to disclose evidence of confidential communications in order to prove the existence or terms of a settlement agreement.

The minister of sustainable development, environment and parks recently introduced Bill 42, which, if passed into law, will create government regulatory powers that will deepen its control over greenhouse gas emissions through market mechanisms. Essentially, the bill will allow for the creation of a provincial cap-and-trade system, the details of which will be established by government regulation following the enactment of the law.

Ontario's deputy premier and minister of energy and infrastructure recently introduced Bill 150 for its first reading in the legislature. If passed, the bill would create a new standalone Green Energy Act 2009 and significantly amend or repeal 17 other statutes in order to set Ontario on course to a greener economy and a conservation culture.

The Quebec government plans to adopt a new regulation in order to collect information on the impact of water withdrawals and allow for better management of conflicting uses of water resources. Industries, businesses, municipalities and institutions will be required to communicate various data to the government on the water that they withdraw from the natural environment.

A new list of Canadian governmental incentives targeted specifically at businesses is now making it easier to be green. This update provides an overview of the environmental incentive programmes available to businesses located in Ontario, together with a description of the respective eligibility requirements.

Under British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act, the Ministry of Environment has the authority to issue contaminated sites approvals, notably certificates of compliance and approvals in principle of remediation plans. The newly created and independent Society of Contaminated Sites Approved Professionals of British Columbia now processes the vast majority of applications.

Canadian companies face an uncomfortable new reality with respect to cross-border pollution: even if they conduct no activities in the United States, the long arm of the US Environmental Protection Agency is applicable if their Canadian operations result in pollution south of the border.

Case Law Update

14/08/2003

Product liability is a specialized area of tort law that is evolving in response to new developments in business and consumer transactions and the recent introduction of class actions throughout Canada. This update discusses some of the highlights of recent Canadian product liability law with a particular focus on Ontario.